Family Values

There has been a lot of verbiage in the media lately about how marriage is a Sacred Institution. Atavistic politicians go on and on about how giving same-sex domestic partnerships the same benefits as marriage would be a financial burden on employers and social services, and possibly bring about not only an end to civilization but possibly to the entire space-time continuum.

There’s a problem with all that.

More heterosexual couples are setting up housekeeping and even having kids without ever getting married. It’s so prevalent that unmarried couples actually outnumber married couples for the first time in years. Many states recognize common-law marriages and give them the same status and benefits as any other marriage.

However, social policyin the U.S. is entirely based on the premise that women and children derive their social benefits through a man. Retirement, healthcare, housing, all of it. Most policy is based on a post-WWII “Leave it to Beaver” mentality that has very little validity now. I don’t think it ever did, actually. What is all this reminiscence and longing for a past that never was?

Why do we still filter benefits through a husband? Women don’t go directly from their father’s house to their husband’s house any more. Everyone works, both husband and wife, and they don’t start having the kids until they can actually afford them. People who marry young are just as likely to divorce as to stay together. And less than half of couples living together in the U.S. have traditional marriages.

The implications of the attack on domestic partnerships are very ugly. Why is a common-law marriage is somehow morally inferior to a marriage that started with a ceremony in a church? And what does the necessity for a license say about all the lip-service they give to family values? Marriage doesn’t have a monopoly on love or commitment or having children. I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out exactly what it *is* about at this point.

So what I’ve been thinking is that as long as we are discriminating against domestic partnerships, let’s extend it to heterosexual couples. Think about it. Big corporations would save billions if they weren’t forced to insure unmarried partners and their children. The cost of insuring same sex partners is negligible compared to that.

We should redefine marriage. The current definition is too broad. I think we should narrow it further to exclude spouses who don’t have children yet. When they do their duty to produce future taxpayers, *then* they qualify for insurance, widow’s benefits, and an income tax deduction. Think of the money we’d save!

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